Be Here Instead
Okra Homa Records/Thirty Tigers
Parker Millsap returns with his fifth studio album but it is a departure from what we’re used to from Millsap. The gritty, high energy folk music of his previously releases like ‘Other Arrangements’ and ‘The Very Last Day’, is replaced with an adventurous, kaleidoscopic sound. The lead single on the record, The Real Thing, sets the scene nicely giving us a taste of what’s to come sonically. Though still littered with clever lyricism “I been through your roses, honey/I don’t mind the thorns”, we hear a determination to reinvent himself on a song which has taken on new meaning during the last year. Though he originally wrote this whilst touring and missing his wife, that desire to really connect with someone has been potent for many during 2020.
We hear a glimpse of his former self with the acoustic undertones of the softly sung, In Between. This stripped back, authentic track is refreshing and a stand out on the album. It is worlds away from Dammit which culminates the new direction in which Millsap is heading down. There is a fieriness to his vocals as the electric guitars ramp up around him.
The storytelling lyricism of his past records is not completely gone but he demonstrates a more introspective take on lyric writing. This is demonstrated in the track Vulnerable, which Millsap wrote when he was newly married. In the song he shares simple snippets of wisdom with listeners as he insists “it’s never really worth it to try to be tough”. Millsap continues to explore and experiment in Now, Here a synth-driven track that leaves lots of room for lines to linger.
I like the boldness of this record. Parker Millsap finds himself wandering down a number of rabbit warrens in a quest to find out what his subconscious really has to say. The majority of this record was recorded by his band live in the studio and there is a feel of collectiveness throughout this record no matter what the musical backdrop is that he’s currently exploring. Though I don’t think fans will love every single song on this album, I do think everyone can find something to take away from this record, a song or two that they can really connect with.
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Editor, Maverick Magazine
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